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|NDT.net Issue - 2017-12 - NEWS |
Modern and forward-looking manufacturing processes are essential building blocks for a company's economic success and efficiency. Production processes must be optimized continuously and intelligently under the aspects of resource savings, quality, and cost. A new measuring system developed by experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP is expected to increase productivity, significantly reduce material and test scrap, as well as provide support for optimizing production processes in transmission production at ZF Friedrichshafen AG's factory in Saarbrücken / Saarland.
At left: Partially automated system for measuring the weld seam geometry of output shafts for the automatic 8-speed passenger car transmission from ZF Friedrichshafen AG, Saarbrücken factory © Fraunhofer IZFP / Uwe Bellhäuser Below: Analysis/results image for an output shaft © Fraunhofer IZFP.
ZF Friedrichshafen AG is a globally leading technology group specializing in drivetrain, chassis as well as active and passive safety technology. In order to remain successful with innovative products in the future, ZF annually spends about six percent of sales for research and development. With its 8,000 employees, the Saarbrücken factory produces automatic passenger car transmissions for the international automobile industry.
Ultrasonic weld seam measuring within a few minutes
Output shafts are manufactured by welding together different components. For different components, production lines have to be retooled. So far, the first two components had to be scrapped in product change-overs because they had to be prepared metallographically for the purpose of microscopic examination and for assessing weld seam quality. Another metallographic microsection grinding process was necessary for interim inspection. These processes required a significant amount of time and resulted in finished output shafts partially becoming test scrap.
The WeldInspector system developed by the Fraunhofer IZFP measures 100 percent of the entire weld seam geometry of ZF's output shafts within a few minutes by means of high-frequency ultrasound. Ultrasonic testing is a nondestructive test procedure that is used to test components made of sound-conducting materials for internal faults without damaging the material itself or changing its surface.
Quality assurance due to automated test process
For ZF Friedrichshafen AG, this newly developed system is of high significance – the system achieves a clearly higher degree of productivity and quality, while providing cost savings at the same time. The system was successfully commissioned at the ZF factory in Saarbrücken in September of 2017.
Application-oriented and industry-capable development projects
The application-oriented, industry-capable new and further developments of the Fraunhofer IZFP focus on improving its clients' product quality – in particular, from the point of view of increased safety, availability, and economy. Thus, the research institute addresses tasks of long-term, national and international significance from all industry-relevant areas.